Book-wus Mask

Book-wus Mask

Red Cedar, Acrylic, Horsehair
7" H x 6 ½" W x 4" D
$2,200.00

Known from the stories of the Kwakwaka’wakw people, Bookwus (Wild Man of the Woods) is a supernatural being who lurks on the edges of forests and near streams trying to lure living people and the souls of those who have drowned into his invisible abode. Also known as the Keeper of Drowned Souls, Bookwus forces his victims to eat his ghost food, which causes them to become like him, condemned to eternal hunger and wandering. When danced, Bookwus emits a low wheezing sound which is made by the use of a double reed whistle. The dancer will sometimes carry a carved wooden clamshell or cockleshell, which represents his food. Because he lives in the woods on the edge of the spirit world, Bookwus is often depicted in a dishevelled and dirty state. His face is characteristically skeletal, his eye sockets deep and round, his brow furrowed, his nose beaked, and his mouth grimacing. His counterparts among other groups on the Northwest coast are Gagiid (Haida), Land Otter (Tlingit), and Pooq-oobs (Nuu-chah-nulth).

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